Omagh shooting: seven men appear in court charged with attempted murder of PSNI detective John Caldwell
Lawyers for some of the men have questioned strength of the evidence against them, while one claims representatives from MI5 approached his client while he was in police custody
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Seven men have been remanded in custody after appearing before a court charged with the attempted murder of a senior police detective in Northern Ireland.
Detective chief inspector John Caldwell was shot several times outside a sports complex in Omagh, Co Tyrone, in February. He had been coaching a youth football match, and was with his young son at the time of the attack.
Mr Caldwell has since recovered from his injuries well, and recently attended a garden party in Royal Hillsborough with the King and Queen.
The so-called New IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said they were investigating links with the dissident republican group - as well as whether it may have been assisted by members of a criminal gang.
The seven accused appeared via videolink at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court on Monday (29 May) morning. They were Jonathan McGinty, 28; Brian Carron, 38; Gavin Coyle, 45; Matthew McLean, 33; Robert McLean, 29; James Ivor McLean, 72; and Alan McFarland, 47.
Carron and Coyle are also accused of belonging to a proscribed organisation - namely the IRA - while McGinty, McFarland and Matthew McLean have been charged with preparation of terrorist acts.
Three of the seven accused made bail applications on Monday – Coyle, James Ivor McLean and McGinty. Their defence lawyers questioned the strength of the evidence against their clients, while McGinty’s solicitor claimed that representatives from MI5 had approached his client while he was in police custody.
While a solicitor for Carron did not make a bail application on Monday, he did challenge the basis upon which police were connecting his client to the charges.
District judge Steven Keown refused bail for the three applicants. All seven were remanded in custody to next appear before Omagh Magistrates’ Court on 27 June.
On Friday (26 May), the PSNI said 11 people were arrested in a major search and arrest operation as police investigated the attempted murder. Nine men and two women, aged between 21 and 72, were detained under the Terrorism Act in Omagh and Coalisland in Co Tyrone.
At a press conference in Belfast, PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said a total of 28 arrests had been made to date in the investigation, comprising of 21 individual suspects.